June 27, 2014:YouTube unveils new creator features as Impala files EC complaint over indie row

YouTube-LogoA day to think about different aspects of YouTube, as Google’s video service unveiled its promised range of useful new tools for creators, while indie trade body Impala confirmed the details of its complaint to the European Commission about YouTube’s approach to licensing independent labels for its upcoming music subscription service.

The creator tools were unveiled in a keynote speech at the VidCon conference in Los Angeles, having been trailed in a video earlier this year.

The biggest is YouTube Fan Funding: a feature where YouTubers can solicit crowdfunding donations from fans within their channels. A small selection of partners will be testing it “soon” (no musicians yet, as far as we can tell) with a signup page for others to apply to the tests in the US, Mexico, Japan and Australia.

YouTube has also launched its YouTube Creator Studio app for Android: a way for people to manage their channels from their smartphones (an iPhone version will follow) including responding to comments and checking analytics.

Other new features include fan-made subtitling, improved annotations (or “Info Cards” as they’ll be known), more tracks in YouTube’s licensed Audio Library, and plans to boost frame rates to 48 and 60 frames-per-second – more useful for games than music, really.

That’s YouTube’s positive face for creators – musicians included – as it provides more tools to help them build their online audiences. Impala is keen to keep up the pressure on the less positive side to YouTube’s business though: the ongoing row over its licensing approach to indie labels for the upcoming premium music service.

As promised, Impala has now lodged a complaint with the European Commission, claiming that YouTube has breached European competition rules in five specific ways: including undervaluing labels’ deals with other streaming services; the controversial most-favoured-nation clause; and demands on the way music should be delivered and (not) windowed with rival services.

“This is a crucial moment for the development of the online music market with European services leading the charge. What kind of legacy will Europe give those companies?” said Impala’s executive chair Helen Smith in a statement. “How does Europe want its artists and consumers to be treated? We look to Commissioner Almunia to take urgent action. It’s red card time.”

Impala is also highlighting the fact that if the EC chose to fine YouTube up to 10% of its revenues, that could be a $500m bill for the company based on recent analyst estimates.

But as we said, different aspects: the hard work being done by YouTube’s development team to serve creators on the platform sits alongside a contentious (to say the least) approach to independent labels. That’s what’s so frustrating.


Stuart Dredge
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